Our responsibilities under the Freedom of Information Act
Responding to requests for information
We must respond to requests for information within 20 working days. Our FOI response time performance is also published each quarter as part of our publication scheme.
The information requested is usually sent electronically if possible or by post. Occasionally the applicant may be required to or may ask to inspect the record on site rather than be sent a copy of the information.
We cannot charge a fee for supplying information in response to a request. However, we can estimate the cost of providing the information. If that cost exceeds a set limit of £450 for local authorities, we do not have to comply with the request; but we will always help the requester to refine their request where possible to fit within the limits.
Further to the cost limit there are a number of exemptions, meaning we do not have to provide the information requested. Some examples would be, due to data protection reasons, protecting a commercial interest, or that the information is already publically available elsewhere. We will, however, always provide advice and assistance and point the requester in the right direction.
If we have grounds for not releasing the information requested, we must issue a refusal notice. The notice must explain:
what exemption we have applied and why;
the public interest considerations we have taken into account, if required;
our internal appeals process;
the applicant's right to complain to the Information Commissioner's Office.
If we wish to apply an exemption for which we need to consider the public interest test, we may extend our time for considering release of the information to 40 working days. We must inform the applicant that we are doing this and give an estimated time for response.
The Act places a duty on us to adopt and maintain a publication scheme approved by the Information Commissioner.
sets out the types of information we must routinely publish;
explains the way we must provide the information;
states what charges we can make for providing information; and
commits us to providing and maintaining a guide to the information we provide, how we provide it and any charges